MATH Connections : Core Mathematics Curriculum
Standards-Based Curriculum Analysis
School Mathematics Curriculum
April 28, 2007
MATH Connections is a curriculum project funded by the National Science Foundation
(NSF). Reflecting the mission of NSF (2002), this curriculum “is:
? Designed to work for all students
? Guided by the NCTM Standards
? Field-tested for 5 years to ensure excellence” (p. 3). The overarching goal of MATH Connections (2005) is as follows:
By providing your students with a rich mathematics curriculum, in a way that makes sense
in their world, they will:
? Learn more mathematics
? Be able to apply math in real-world settings
? Perform better on standardized tests
? Succeed in mathematics (para. 6).
MATH Connections is a 3 year program allows all students to gain a better understanding of
algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and discrete mathematics. It seeks to provide
challenging content, a user-friendly design, increased test scores, and to meet the NCTM
Standards. Most importantly, the curriculum is designed such that the connections between the
content and other aspects of life are evident to students. MATH Connections has taken a unified
thematic approach to bridging traditional mathematics topics with different areas of mathematics,
other academic subjects, and the “real world”.
The National Science Education Standards and the NCTM Standards were used as a
guideline in the development of curriculum materials and content. MATH Connections has done
an excellent job of presenting the correlations between their materials and the standards of
several states and the NCTM. Correlation diagrams indicate the book and chapters in which
each standard is addressed. In fact, every NCTM 9-12 Standard is addressed in at least one of
the curriculum’s 6 student edition textbooks. MATH Connections does not present much geometry content during the first year study. Yet, geometry has a strong presence in years 2 and
3 of the curricula. Data analysis and probability is applied throughout the curriculum and is not
concentrated in any one book. The thematic nature of these materials lends allows this area to be
applied throughout the curricula. All other content areas and standards are applied consistently
throughout the texts.
The Florida Sunshine State Standards (SSS) for Mathematics, Grades 9-12, are not as
thoroughly stated the NCTM Standards. Unfortunately, It’s About Time has not compiled a
correlation spreadsheet for the state of Florida. Nonetheless, MATH Connections is aligned with
NCTM Standards. NCTM Standards were used as a guide to determine how this curriculum
correlates with the Florida SSS. The Florida SSS are not stated as thoroughly as the NCTM.
MATH Connections either meets or exceeds the expectations of the Florida SSS. For example.
Florida SSS are very limited in the area of Algebraic Thinking. However, MATH Connections
ensures that students have strong algebraic skills by comprehensively incorporating algebraic
thinking and operations throughout the entire curriculum. The Florida SSS focus more on mathematical content and an ability to solve real-world problems. MATH Connections meets
those expectations, and proceeds to address concepts such as connections, representation and
communication. MATH Connections provides a comprehensive and interactive program for
students to learn content within the Florida SSS in a meaningful way.
These materials are largely based around a constructivist philosophy. The teacher
becomes a facilitator to the students’ learning. Standards-based materials seek to promote sense-making and in-depth learning. MATH Connections has been designed to move away from rote memorization and repetition. The questions and activities provided within the curriculum allow
the student to develop his/her own understanding. Activities are also available for students of
varying ability; thus, all students will be able to meet the mathematics standards outlined for
“A unit of study is a cohesive and intentional plan for teaching and learning developed to
address content standards in a meaningful way. Standards-based units of study are designed to
ensure that every student will learn at high levels” (Miller, para. 1) Two major concerns in mathematics education are how to make math relevant to students and how to increase the
coherence of the material. Theme or unit studies have probably been sought as a way to balance
subject-matter, society and the individual focal points of curriculum. MATH Connections makes
use of the transdisciplinary quality of many concepts. The materials allow students to interact
and connect with mathematical applications in other subjects and the real world. Comprehensive
standards-based materials give recognition to the importance of understanding and skills, as well
as their interconnectedness. MATH Connections is designed to provide all students with a solid mathematics core, and an ability to connect link content with mathematical processes such as
problem solving, reasoning, connections, etc.
Many curriculum projects fail because of the lack of administrative and teacher support.
It’s About Time provides initial staff development in the following forms:
? Summer Institutes
? On-site training
? Staff development videos
? Local training programs
In addition to initial training, It’s About Time offers a variety of professional development services to provide teachers with continued support. Included among these services are
workshops, conferences and online community forums. This curriculum has been designed to
promote growth and success within every classroom.
“The American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Triple A-S" (AAAS), is an
international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving
as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association” (para. 1). AAAS Project 2061
is a long-term initiative that includes algebra textbook evaluations. Its review of MATH
Connections introduced important issues. According to the Summary of Instructional Analysis
Ratings (2000) MATH Connections Core Curriculum 1998 Edition, the curriculum received fair to poor ratings in the following areas:
? specifying prerequisite knowledge
? alerting teacher to student ideas
? encouraging students to explain their reasoning
? encouraging students to reflect on what they’ve learned
? using embedded assessment
? connecting standards ideas
COMPASS (Curricular Options in Mathematics Programs for All Secondary Students) is
a secondary school implementation project, funded in part by the NSF. “The mission of COMPASS is to focus specifically on the implementation of five multi-year, comprehensive
high school curriculum development projects” (It’s About Time, pg. 19) The COMPASS review of MATH Connections has a attributed five years of documented field test trials and standardized
test scores. Published 4 years after that of AAAS and post textbook revisions, this review
produced more favorable results. Test scores are up for program participants. Teachers have
sited that many of their MATH Connections students, including lower level students, are now far
above their regular students who are not in MATH Connections. Case studies sited on the It’s About Time website attest to the success of this curriculum. In addition to quizzes and test, the
program also offers alternative assessment items. COMPASS notes, “Alternative assessment methods requiring written, oral and demonstration formats assess higher order thinking skills” (para 5).
In conclusion, MATH Connections appears to be a favorable option for any school
district. Students are enjoying it, teachers love it, test scores are up, and most importantly
students are integrating math into their lives.
1. COMPASS (Curricular Options in Mathematics Programs for All Secondary Students) (2007)
MATH Connections: A Secondary Mathematics Core Curriculum Retrieved from the Web April 25, 2007 http://www.ithaca.edu/compass/conx.htm
2. Florida Department of Eduation (2000). Mathematics Grades 9-12. Retrieved from the Web April 13, 2007 http://www.firn.edu/doe/curric/prek12/pdf/math9.pdf
3. It’s About Time (2007). MATH Connections Retrieved from the Web http://www.its-about-
4. It’s About Time (2002). MATH Connections Overview. Herff Jones Education Division. Retrieved from the Web April 13, 2007 http://www.its-about-
5. Miller, Michael, Kentucky Department of Education (2007). Attributes of a Standards Based Unit of Study (para. 1). Retrieved from the Web February 03, 2007.
6. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2004) Standards for Grades 9–12. Retrieved
from the Web April 13, 2007 http://standards.nctm.org/document/chapter7/index.htm